DIR: Stuart Blumberg WRI: Stuart Blumberg, Matt Winston • PRO: Miranda de Pencier, David Koplan, Bill Migliore, Leslie Urdang, Dean Vanech • DOP: Yaron Orbach • ED: Anne McCabe • MUSIC: Christopher Lennertz • DES: Beth Mickle • CAST: Mark Ruffalo, Tim Robbins, Joely Richardson, Pink
Thanks for Sharing, as the title implies, is concerned with the very American phenomenon of help groups coming together to share their personal stories. The main characters, Adam (Mark Ruffalo), Mike (Tim Robins) and Neil (Josh Gad), are all members of a sex addicts’ help group – Mike the gruff patriarch, Adam his well-intentioned disciple and Neil as the chubby, Jewish, comic relief. Presumably Jonah Hill was unavailable or too expensive. The movie follows all three characters as they struggle with their addictions.
Mike is dealing with the return of his prodigal son (Patrick Fugit of Almost Famous), the only male character in the movie for whom he does not act as a father-figure. Neil, who is only coming to terms with his sex addiction, hooks up (platonically) with Dede (Alecia Moore a.k.a Pink) for the warm, fuzzy story-line. Meanwhile, Adam is attempting to begin a relationship with an anorexic, breast cancer survivor Phoebe (an age-defying Gwyneth Paltrow) after five-years of sex “sobriety”.
Many films fail in pitching the correct tone for a comedy/drama and Thanks for Sharing (the directorial debut of Stuart Blumberg who wrote The Kids Are Alright) is no different. There are some funny moments, but others are cringe worthy. (Phoebe: “Yes my tits are fake, that’s what you get when your real ones try to kill you. Adam: “Is that what they mean by the booby prize?”) The rest of the movie aims to take a serious look at the pit falls of sex addiction, though never reaching the grim depths of Steve Mc Queen’s Shame. In fact, its hard to imagine such grim realities exist with a main character as likeable as Mark Ruffalo. His puppy-dog looks make it hard to believe he has been as debauched as he claims.
Ironically, the problem with a movie about sex addiction is that it doesn’t translate as “sexy” on the big screen. At the movie’s climax (sorry), Adam has a relapse. He has clandestinely referred to his previous life of debauchery throughout, so you’re expecting something pretty epic from this fall from grace. The result: he masturbates to internet pornography, has sex with a prostitute and calls on an old flame. This just doesn’t have the same dramatic impact as succumbing to alcohol and drug addiction – Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas it ain’t.
The movie juggles many intertwining relationships, with some creating an emotional impact, like the relationship between Mike and his son. However, the constant cutting between the different storylines makes it difficult to maintain an active interest in every relationship. There’s also a distinct lack of chemistry between Ruffalo and Paltrow, whose story-line relies heavily on classic rom-com conventions. They come across as yet another yuppy, Manhattan couple – they meet at a bug-eating party for Christ’s sake – and are difficult to feel for emotionally. The script works so hard to get you to like them, with their constant quirky in-jokes, that it lays the mechanics of the filmmaking process bare.
This movie is intent on convincing you that sex addiction is a real psychological disorder, with constant referrals to it as a “disease”. At times the narrative does powerfully depict what a detrimental effect sex addiction can have on lives; but ultimately it still feels like another first-world problem. With characters who film up girls’ skirts, sleep with their best friend’s partner and rub their crotches against women in the subway, it’s hard not to wonder – what’s the difference between being a sex addict and just being a jerk?
15A (See IFCO for details)
Thanks for Sharing is released on 4th October 2013
Thanks for Sharing – Official Website